Saioa Lopez Rico and Eva Rami gold medal
Saioa Lopez Rico and Eva Rami gold medal Facebook

The U.S. Hispanic readership in both English and Spanish is more than 15.5 million people, representing 34% of all adult Latinos and accounting for a combined $452 billion in sales, says a report presented by Empowering Latino Futures.

The Latino Reader Study of 10,640 found that Hispanic readers purchase an average of 24.7 books per year, 42% of which are in Spanish, a significant increase from a few years ago when it was much more difficult to find a wide variety of Spanish-language books in the United States.

This data was released at the sidelines of the 25th Annual International Latino Book Awards, held this week at the City College of California, Los Angeles under the patronage of Mexican American actor Edward James Olmos, co-founder of Empowering Latino Futures (ELF).

The awards were attended by authors of books written by and about Latinos, as well as publishers, translators, and illustrators of books published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese in the U.S. and throughout the hemisphere.

The awards are named for prominent figures in U.S. Hispanic literature, culture and leadership. They include Alma Flor Ada, Isabel Allende, Rudolfo Anaya, Charlie Eriksen, Juan Felipe Herrera, Dolores Huerta, Hank Lacayo, Mimi Lozano, Ambassador Julian Nava, Victor Villaseñor, and Raul Yzaguirre.

Two ceremonies honored the winners of gold, silver, and bronze medals in the International Latino Book Awards categories of Nonfiction, Poetry Translation, Butterfly, Fiction, Children's, and Young Adult.

The Rising Stars 2023 awards went to Reyna Grande in the narrative category, Clara Olivo in the poetry category, Maria Quintana in the nonfiction category, and Aida Salazar in the children's category.

In the category of illustrated children's books in Spanish, the gold medal went to "Éramos una vez... mi mama y yo", written by Saioa Lopez Rico and illustrated by Eva Rami. The authors received two awards.

In addition to literature, education and culture in general, there were awards for investigative and historical works on topics such as journalism.

In this category, one of the winners was "Understanding the Media in Puerto Rico: Journalism in Colonial Environments and Times of Crisis."

The work, written by Puerto Ricans Federico Suberví Vélez, Sandra Rodríguez-Cotto and Venezuelan Jairo Lugo Ocando, includes 800 sources and interviews with 60 journalists.

This year, 135 awards were selected from 2,000 books written by Hispanic and Latin American authors.

According to the organizers of this year's awards, there was a 19% increase in the number of books judged over last year.

They also noted that since its founding in 1997, ELF has hosted 71 book and family festivals across the country, served 182,500 young people with Latino and Native American scholarships, and honored more than 3,000 books through the International Latino Book Awards.

Similarly, since 2015, the organization said it has given 208,000 books to underserved youth through its Education Begins at Home program and honored 199 books and screenplays through its Books Turned into Film Awards.

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